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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Girl with the Green Pen: An Interview with Taryn Albright

When I was clueless and writing my first query, who did I turn to? 
When I was in the query trenches and didn't know what agents to query or how to find agents, who did I call?
When I finished a 1st draft and needed a quick Beta read to make sure I was headed in the right direction, who did I send my MS to?

This little beauty here. I don't know anyone with as much on her plate as Taryn. She swims collegiality, she's in college (obviously), she writes up a storm, she interns, and she edits professionally. Here's a brief feed from her @tarynalbright #sbscrits feed last Saturday when she did 1st page and query crits for free.
  • Ask yourself why you're leaving that "shocking twist/secret" out of the query. If it's so cool, why don't you use it as a hook?
  • The best word with which to start a query? "When." "When something happens, someone must." 
  • Seventeen-year-old MC. NOT seventeen year old. If it's an adj, USE THE DARN HYPHENS.
  • No query sentence should merely describe your character. Combine it with an action.
  • Does your MC want something on the very first page? Even something as simple as a sandwich. Goals pull readers forward
  • I'm seeing a lot of filter words in the 1st page. Check this post out for tips on how to cut your filters: …
Great advise, right?

And now that she's branching out and opening her very own editing service (with such a fun website that I just want to go and play with all the buttons all day long) I asked her to do a brief interview. Her answers are in green:)

Why The Girl with the Green Pen? Why green?
Most edits are made with a red pen. If someone critiques your manuscript, s/he will most likely cover it with red ink, right? Not so much here. I make all my notes in green because I like to reflect the idea of moving forward. Green means go, it means new life. These are ways to think of your revisions, and this is how I like to think of the editing process.

Green is my favorite color for many of the reasons you mention here, but also because it makes my eyes dance;-)

What's the weirdest query (or MS) you're ever read?
Luckily I don't request weird MSs, and all my clients are fantastic ;) As for the queries, well it's always fun when they write back to form rejections all passive aggressively ("just so you know, five billion better agents have requested the full manuscripts.")

Have you ever squealed reading a query? (besides reading mine, of course)
Not out loud! But I have multiple times gone to stalk the author on twitter :)

What query advice do you wish everyone knew already?
WHITE SPACE IS YOUR FRIEND!!! Seriously, nothing is worse than opening up a query and seeing a thick chunk of black. You do not want the intern going to read with a frown.

Any last minute advise for those to the minute NaNo-ers out there (who might claw your eyes out if they realize you beat Nano in what? 6 days?)?
Write or Die!!! link to site so you don't think Taryn's threatening you:D

Thanks Girl with the Green Pen!

And if you're in the NaNo homestretch, Go. Write. Now. I'm cheering you on from the winners circle. The chocolate fountain and strawberry tarts are delightful, but I had to take off my lei, the horses wouldn't leave me alone.

Have you ever used an editorial service? or Taryn's free query passes?


  1. I think white space is your friend in books, too. I cringe when I open a book that's oozing black words on every inch of the page. Great interview, and congrats to Taryn!

    1. Thanks Ilima! When I review for Covenant it's def. something that affects my reading experience. I've found that lots of black means lots of telling.

  2. I think Taryn is very helpful. She's well worth considering for her services!

    1. Thanks Emily! I appreciate your visiting my blog:D

  3. Ahhhh clarify that "Write or Die" means the website! I'm not yelling some slogan at you all, I promise :)

    1. edited to give link to write or die so no one thought you were (too) crazy ;)

  4. Yay, Taryn for taking over the world, one green-inked manuscript at a time. Great interview, Robin!

    1. Thanks Katie. She's fun to have on the blog. It takes me back to Louise's class...

  5. Great interview! I like the idea of a green pen--personally I use a pink one because pink is my fave color! :-p Thanks for stopping by my blog earlier, and for the follow! Following back!! :D

    1. Thanks Cortney! Glad you stopped by. I like the pink pen idea. I use pencil, it seems the least offensive and I can erase it if I change my mind:)